United States of America
Hot 5 Museums You Might Actually Want to Visit
New Orleans, USA
Voodoo first made its way to Louisiana in 1791 when West Africans fled Haiti after the slave revolt and moved to New Orleans (NOLA). It’s in the deep south where they merged their voodoo rituals and practices with the local Catholic population. Voodoo is still very much entrenched in Creole culture, and if you wander around NOLA you’ll find gris-gris dolls, potions and other talismans in stores, such as chicken feet which are believed to bring luck. In the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, you’ll browse artefacts, antique voodoo dolls, taxidermy and stand before altars where you can leave notes or make wishes. Contrary to popular voodoo misconceptions, only positive wishes here are allowed. So before you ask, no, you can’t hex your ex.
Chiang Rai, Thailand
The Hall of Opium Museum in Thailand’s notorious Golden Triangle pulls no punches. It uses multimedia and graphic pictures to educate and elucidate about the perils of opium and drug use. You’ll learn about the history of the Golden Triangle, the origins of opium, the opium war, opium warlords, drug smugglers, the battle against poppy growing and the violence associated with drug trafficking. The most confronting exhibits are in the Opium Effects Zone, where images of long-term drug-affected users are on display.
There’s an artificial poppy field where you can learn about various species of poppy flowers and even a mock-up of a Chinese tea house in Yaowarat. Finish on a high (no pun intended) in the Magic Medicine Zone that also shines a light on the many positive aspects of opioid drugs like morphine.
With drug smuggling carrying the death penalty in Thailand, this museum sends an ominous warning for drug dealers, users and abusers.
Not all relationships end well and this museum explores the fallout at the end of the relationship rainbow. Housed in a baroque palace, the Museum of Broken Relationships displays personal objects from former lovers, paired with a brief story. For example, the sentence, “He was straight and I wasn’t” is written alongside a pair of basketball shoes. Voyeuristic or pure intrigue? We think it offers a fascinating insight into the human condition. The exhibits range from the light-hearted and hilarious (like the toaster that was pinched so an ex couldn’t make toast again) to heartbreaking and tragic (you can read real-life notes of betrayal and regret). There’s even tickets to the 1968 Mexico Olympics on display, which were used as a lure by a teenage girl to the handsome next-door neighbour, whom she had since married and divorced. In the ten years since it opened, the museum has amassed a collection of some 2,785 objects and has locations in Zagreb and Los Angeles. You can even add to the collection by contributing from your own stash of heartbreak trinkets.
While spending your time at a museum dedicated to human disease sounds like a morose and macabre excursion, the Museum of Human Disease offers a strangely fascinating insight into pathology and anatomy without lending itself to creepiness. Boasting more than 2,500 diseased human tissue specimens, this place is a stark reminder that the life choices we make can be detrimental. The collection includes diseases and their complications, including HIV/AIDs, cancer, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and the effects that drugs can have on the body. Alien-like tumours sit alongside giant tapeworms, and there are organs on display which have been riddled with tuberculosis. And if you’ve ever wondered what a cancerous lung or a gangrenous foot looks like, you’ve come to the right place. Many of the diseases on show here are associated with poor lifestyle, so if you ever needed some encouragement to kick the bottle, there’s a hanging diseased liver which shows how alcohol abuse can turn it from pretty pink into something that resembles a dropped pie. The displays may be confronting, but the overall message is positive: our body is a temple and if we habitually mistreat it with toxins, we will pay a hefty price.
Bunker 42 is a declassified Cold War military museum in Moscow that also moonlights as an entertainment complex. Once reserved for Stalin during the Cold War, it was a originally designed as a nuclear bunker located 65 metres underground in the centre of the city. This labyrinth, filled with kilometers of tunnels, has now been converted to feature replica KGB interrogation rooms, bombing raid sirens, a Cold War interactive exhibit and a restaurant. Here you can order yourself some borscht, potato pancakes with sour cream and a chaser of home distilled vodka.
Words Jeremy Drake